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An Inside Look at Elizabeth Granberg’s Hexified Panel Quilt!

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We’re ringing in 2018 with an exciting project! In the Garden is a Hexified Panel Quilt created with the Reverie panel by Chong-a Hwang. This original design was pieced and quilted by Elizabeth Granberg-Jerome of Gypsy Dreamer Quilts.

We’re so excited to welcome Liz to our blog today! Read on for her guest post about this stunning quilt and how you can make your very own Hexified Panel Quilt.


Hi, I’m Elizabeth Granberg and I’m thrilled to share my quilt with you all today!

Two of my Hexified Panel Quilts appeared in One Block Wonders of the World by Maxine Rosenthal and Linda Bardes (2017, C&T Publishing). I’m honored to have been invited to share samples of my technique with fabrics designed by Chong-a Hwang, whose use of color is exquisite!

I chose the Reverie panel because it reminded me of home. I was born and raised in northern California where my mother had iris, poppies, daisies, pansies, hydrangeas, and more in her garden. As the design of the layout evolved, I was again reminded of my mother who played the piano during Sunday school for many years. One of our favorite hymns was In The Garden which speaks of walking and talking with God among the flowers. Ultimately, the layout became what looked, to me, like praying hands holding the garden within them.

In the Garden is an original design based on the One Block Wonder (OBW) technique, created by Maxine Rosenthal, of layering six repeats of a fabric that are turned into kaleidoscopic hexagons and arranged in a color flow design. I have taken the original OBW technique and given it a twist to create the Hexified Panel Quilt that uses six identical fabric panels to create the hexagons that are then color flowed around a seventh uncut panel. A pattern giving full details on how to create your own Hexified Panel Quilt was written by me two years ago and is available in my Etsy store through the shop link on my website.

The following are photos of my process with notes from cutting the fabric to assembly to quilting and binding the finished quilt, In the Garden.

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For full width of fabric (WOF) panels such as Reverie, which measures 24” x 44”, I cut the panels in half at the fold to create two stacks of six layers each measuring approximately 24” x 22”. This makes the WOF strips a manageable length to keep the print lined up. Start by layering the two sets of six half-panels as precisely as you can before cutting strips.

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The next step is to sub-cut the strips into sets of six identical triangles. There is very little waste with this technique—only the small half-triangle pieces on either end of each strip remain unused. By alternating the direction of the triangle ruler, you can cut triangle sets continuously across the strip.

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Sets of six triangles need to be kept together. I stack mine alternating their direction in order to keep them together and easily accessible as I’m sewing. If I plan to work on a project at a retreat, I will pin each individual set of six together and carry them with me in a tote or Ziploc bag.

In the original OBW book, the recommended strip width is 3 ¾”; however, this is quite large for working with panels. My preferred strip width is 2 ¾”, but may vary up to 3 ½” or down as small as
1 ¾” for small panels. With a narrower strip, the color will be more concentrated for a better mix of hexagons with a wider color variation to pick from, as well as a larger number of hexagons to design with. By cutting the Reverie panel in 2 ¾” strips, I netted 224 sets of triangles that were turned into hexagons to use in the quilt layout.

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Once cut, the triangle sets are arranged into hexagons before sewing. Because the triangles are cut with a 60º ruler, they are equilateral, giving each set three different rotation options to choose from before stitching them together. Once you pick the layout you like best, the stitching begins!

The triangles are not sewn together into a complete hexagon, but rather into two half hexagons that are pinned together and later sewn together in rows. To stitch, sew two matching pairs together, finger-press the seams open, and then add the third triangle to each pair to make two halves.

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Press all seams open, using Best Press or your preferred starch, stack the two halves together and set aside. Once all triangle sets are stitched, pin the halves together to get them ready for layout.

Now the real fun begins! Take all of your pinned hexagons to your design wall to play. Start by placing the seventh uncut panel in the center of your design wall and add all of the pinned hexagons around it. I try to create a frame that mimics the final structure of how the hexagons nest together so I can keep a matching number across the top and bottom, and along each side. I try not to worry about color placement, but just getting everything up there so I can see what I have to work with.

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There are times I design with just the panel and the hexagons, and others where I cut 1” strips of a contrasting fabric to audition as the flange frame that will be attached to the panel before final assembly (see below). Having the strips pinned to the panel, you can see the delineation of the panel better.

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If possible use a digital camera or camera phone to take pictures as you continue to work with the design. With this quilt, as major or subtle changes were made, over 40 photos were taken that allowed me to watch the layout evolve into its final setting. These four were taken at various stages and show major shifts in the evolution of In the Garden.

Seeing the layout on the wall in front of you is very different from the perspective of a photo. Blocks that pop out and don’t fit in may not be obvious when looking at the wall, but will become obvious when looking through the lens of a camera or at a photo. Play with lots of options—create color strikes, diamonds, rosettes, half-diamonds falling off the side, and more. Rearrange the color groupings, mix them up! With digital photos taken along the way, you can always go back to a previous layout.

Once I’m satisfied with my layout, I wait a day or two before starting the final assembly process. Often there are a few blocks that need to be tweaked or shifted to get a better layout. Be patient, but also don’t obsess and continue for too long. There is always something that can be moved, but does it really need to?

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Finalize your layout and then begin assembling the top. When I first place the pinned hexagons on the design wall, I make sure the future center seams are all vertical. By doing this, when I’m ready to pin rows, the hexagons are already in the proper orientation to easily pin the halves end-to-end.

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Stitch the half-hexagons together end-to-end in the short rows above and below the panel, as well as the long rows on either side of the panel. Press seams open, and then stitch the rows to each other, matching up the hexagons that meet their mates, matching the dog-ears to keep the centers aligned.

Once the sections are all together, it will be time to adjust the final width and length of the panel to fit the assembled sections—make sure the hexagon halves match their mates in adjoining sections. Attach the flange to the panel and then assemble the sections into the finished top. Trim the center assembled top straight on the top and bottom, and audition borders for your final look.

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I played with several combinations of borders using the gold, blue, and border print. A combination of all three gave the best finished design.

Once the final combination was chosen, the individual borders were attached. The border print was mitered at each corner to give a continuous flow of the floral border around the quilt.

The quilt layers were then basted and ready for quilting on my HandiQuilter Sweet Sixteen sit-down quilting machine. By moving the quilt under the needle, I find I have better control to do the fine custom work, especially in the panel where individual flowers are outlined and given texture in multiple colors to bring them to life.

The hexagons are quilted with a gentle curve or orange peel that secures all of the pressed open seams. The black background of the panel is quilted with a simple small stipple in black Aurifil cotton thread to have a matte finish that recedes from the flowers quilted in Glide polyester that gives a nice sheen.

By using several shades of each color, the flowers are given definition and highlights that bring them to life.

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The mostly dark blocks that looked heavy along the bottom and side of the initial layout proved very helpful in separating the shape of the hands holding the flowers. Even subtle blocks shouldn’t be discounted until a full layout is done. In the end, only four blocks and a handful of half-hexagon orphans remained unused.

Here you can see the detail quilted on several flowers in contrast to the black stipple background and gentle curves in the hexagons.

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In The Garden finishes at 74” wide x 88.5” long.

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Thanks for sharing this beautiful quilt with us, Liz! We really enjoyed seeing the evolution of the quilt on the wall—so inspiring!

We hope you enjoyed seeing In The Garden come together as much as we did! Check out the full Reverie collection here.

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